To the Editor:
Seven Republican governors across the U.S. have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Tweny-four other states have also elected to do so.
These state leaders understood that healthy lives and the quality of life for many children and their grandparents were at stake. Governors could see their rural hospitals struggling to keep doors open, leaving sick as well as healthy people with less access to medical services.
And despite efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, these governors argued that expanding Medicaid is a moral decision and economic common sense.
In contrast, Maine’s governor vetoed five bills to expand Medicaid. These were bills favored by a bipartisan majority of the state Legislature. Several hundred million dollars in federal funds annually could have helped our hospitals that now bear the costs of charity care, as well as critical services like addiction treatment. The impact is especially acute for those living in rural areas, including all of Hancock County.
By the governor’s actions, 70,000 Maine citizens are denied health insurance — and the chance of better health, not to mention financial security. In the U.S., 50 percent of personal bankruptcies, estimated at 700,000 yearly, are caused by health crises and associated insurmountable bills.
On Nov. 7, Election Day, we have the opportunity to pass Question 2, the Medicaid Expansion Initiative 2017. A “yes” vote supports Medicaid through the MaineCare program for persons under the age of 65 with incomes equal to or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. These are folks who live on $16,643 or less for an individual or $33,948 or less for a household of four.
This initiative will help our struggling rural hospitals, the only truly accessible place to get needed care for many Mainers. It is the right thing to do for our neighbors.
I will be voting “yes” on Question 2, and hope you will join me.